CD A0175: Dialogues: agallaímh

Dialogues: agallaímh by Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman

CD Cover: Dialogues: agallaímh by Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris NewmanThese musical conversations range from a 17th century air and the newly-discovered 18th century 'Hidden Pearl' to Máire and Chris’s own compositions: Máire’s Irish-style 'Three Piece Suite' and Chris’s jaunty 'Banana Yellow' & jazzy 'Swinging the Lead.' The album contains four songs, and the guest musicians are Nollaig Casey & Iain MacFarlane (fiddles), Simon Mayor (mandolin), Liz Hanks (cello), Roy Dodds (percussion)

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Profile page & index of recordings & sheet music

Track Listing & Audio Samples

  1. Three Piece Suite (The Chestnut Tree/Ril an tSuaimhnis/The Copper Hills of Beara)
  2. The Beeswing Hornpipe
  3. Deirín Dé/Midnight in Annemasse
  4. Paddy Whack/Colonel Robertson's/The Maid at the Spinning Wheel
  5. Gol na mBan san Ár
  6. Banana Yellow
  7. I love my love
  8. Donald Maclean's Farewell to Oban/Duntroon Castle
  9. An Clár Bog-Déil
  10. Twinkle Little Star
  11. The Hidden Pearl
  12. Cnocáinin Aerach Chill Mhuire
  13. Swinging the Lead

CD Notes & Credits

Sleeve Notes

agallamh, f., a discourse, a dialogue, a disputation.

1. Three Piece Suite
A slip-jig, The Chestnut Tree, and two reels, Ril an tSuaimhnis (pronounced Reel un Toonish and translated as The Reel of Peace) and The Copper Hills of Beara composed by Máire.
Although 'Ril an tSuaimhnis' literally means 'The Reel of Peace',it was actually written in honour of Máire's mother's family, the 'Suaimhnis' or 'peaceful' branch of the O'Sullivan clan of Beara,Co. Cork. The third tune refers to the parish of Allihies on the Beara Peninsula, where there have been copper mines at various periods since the Bronze Age.

2. The Beeswing Hornpipe
A great tune composed by James Hill, the famous Scottish fiddle-player and composer who died in the early 1860s, having spent most of his life in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The titles of his tunes reflect the life he lived, many of them being named after racehorses and public houses. Beeswing was a racehorse who lived from 1833-1854. Maybe Hill composed this tune in his honour to commemorate a successful bet!

3. Deirin De(pronounced Derreen Day)/Midnight in Annemasse
There are many versions of the lullaby Deirin De: this one has always greatly appealed to us. A 'Deirin De' was, according to the lexicographer O Duinnin, a nearly-extinguished taper used in a Munster children's game, but the words are used in the song for their sound and not for their meaning: they have a pleasing mantra-like effect.
Chris learnt the second tune many years ago from a group of traditional singers and dancers in Haute Savoie, high in the French Alps. Deirin De and Midnight in Annemasse share a certain melancholy quality, so we thought we'd put them together.

4.Paddy Whack/ Colonel Robertson/The Maid at the Spinning Wheel
The first and third of these jigs are Irish; the second is Scottish.The tune now generally known as The Maid at the Spinning Wheel is one of the finest of all traditional Irish jigs. Several different versions, of varying degrees of complexity, have been published over the last 250 years and its popularity shows no sign of waning-the test of a really great tune.

5.Gol na mBan san Ar
(pronounced Gull nuh Mon sun Awr, and translated as The Lament of the Women Amidst the Slaughter)
This solo harp piece has a spare, stark beauty;its balance of passion and restraint is the essential characteristic of that style of composition and performance unique to the ancient court harpers of Ireland. It's thought to be one part of a long suite of pieces composed to commemorate the disastrous defeat of the Irish armies at the Battle of  Aughrim on 12 July,1691.
Máire first learnt the tune as a child, from the fiddle-playing of the late Pilib O Laoire, who lived in Cork City. A slightly different version was collected by Liam de Noraidh in 1942 from the fiddle-playing of Treasa Bean Ui Bhreallachain, Achadh Tiobrad, Co. kerry. Though preserved in the oral tradition into modern times by fiddle-players, it is stylistically such a perfect example of the older harp-music of Ireland that one can confidently conclude that it was composed by a harper.

6. Banana Yellow
A tune that should be played when it's pouring with rain and freezing cold!

7. I Love my Love
Three verses of this beautiful and pathetic love-song were collected by Edith Wheeler from an inmate of the Belfast Workhouse in 1902 and published by her (without an air)in a 1905 edition of the Journal of the Irish Folksong Society.
Máire has inserted a fourth verse containing related thematic material. The air is loosely based on a Co. Wexford tune published by George Petrie (1789-1866) in his 'Ancient Music of Ireland'.

8. Donald MacLean's Farewell to Oban/Duntroon Castle
Donald MacLean's farewell to Oban is a pipe-march composed by Archibald McNeill, the blind piper from the island of Gigha, off the west coast of Scotland.
Duntroon Castle is a piping reel. we're joined on this track by Ian MacFarlane from Glenfinnan, one of the finest young exponents of the West Highland fiddle style which dates back to before the 1715 Jacobite Rising. The repression of Gaelic culture that followed the failure of the last Jacobite Rising in 1745 brought a ban on the bagpipes, with the result that many pipers transferred their subtly varied and highly-ornamented style on to the fiddle.

9.An Clar Bog-Deil
(pronounced Un Clawer Bog Dale and translated as The Bog-Deal Board) An affecting traditional Irish love- song, very popular in West Cork when Máire's father Sean was a young man. The title is sometimes mistranslated as 'The Soft Deal Board'."Bog- deal" was the term traditionally used to describe the ancient fossilised timber found in Irish bogs.
Sean remembers its being used principally as firewood, but also occasionally for roofing houses and making torches for poaching expeditions! 
As an extremely cheap-in fact, free-source of wood, it was often used by the 19th century poor for making coffins and simple kitchen furniture. "The Bog-Deal Board" is therefore a powerful image of the poverty which the poet would be willing to endure in order to live with his beloved. This beautiful version of the air was collected in the early 19th century by George Petrie from a Father Walsh, parish priest of Sneem,Co. Kerry and published by him in his 'Ancient Music of Ireland'.

10. Twinkle Little Star
In 1999 Chris participated in a short tour with bluegrass fiddle maestro Richard Greene. This was one of the tunes Richard played, and it was so pretty it was crying out to be pinched!

11.The Hidden Pearl
Máire found this wonderfully expressive untitled gem in George Petrie's 'Complete Collection of Irish Music'. hidden in the middle is a short musical reference to the famous song The Snowy Breasted pearl, thus its new title.

12.Cnocainin AerachChill Mhuire
(pronounced Kinuckawneen Airuck Keel virrer and translated as The Airy Heights of Kilmurry)
The parish of Kilmurry is situated about ten miles from Bandon, Co. Cork, the town where Máire grew up. The poet depicts his native place as a rural paradise-a veritable Arcadia!

13. Swinging the Lead
Chris wrote this tune in 1984 in a hotel room in Quebec. It started out as an exercise to see how far round you can go in fourths before you fall over. Thanks to Simon for a seriously wacky solo!


"Virtuosic, fascinating, dramatic, original,inspired,gloriously adventurous, dazzling, brilliant, stunning, impassioned, electrifying, bewitching, moving, achingly   beautiful, influential, revered, unique..."                  Folk Roots,The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Irish times, The Scotsman.

These are just some of the comments made in the press about Máire Ni Chathasaigh and Chris Newman. Máire,described by Derek Bell as the most interesting, original player of our Irish harp today, has invented some profoundly influential dance-music techniques which have amounted to a single-handed re-invention of the harp. Chris is one of the UK's most extraordinary acoustic guitarists and has been described by Folk Roots as"staggering and revered".

Together they've played in 21 countries, from Shetland to New Zealand,from California to Calabria. Rooted in the Irish tradition, their performances are a breathtaking blend of irish and Scottish music, hot jazz, bluegrass and baroque.



There are three acoustic guitars on this recording:
a 1930 Martin OM-18,
a 1993 Oakwood and
a 2000 Martin OM42
The Fender Stratocaster was made in 1994, the Vanden mandolin dates from 1986 and the octave mandolin was built by Davy Stuart of Christchurch, New Zealand in 1997.

Newtone strings are used on everything ('cos they're fab!).

On this recording, Máire plays two Melusine harps, made in 1993 and 1999 by Camac, France.

Máire and Chris can also be heard on the following albums from Old Bridge Music:

The Living Wood OBMCDO7-"Elegant and yet impassioned"- The Scotsman
Out of Court OBMCDO3-"Gloriously adventurous"-The Daily Telegraph
The Carolan Albums OBMCDO6- "Goes beyond mere performance to restore the harp to its true voice"- The Irish Times
Live in the HighlandsOBMCDO8- "Music of  fire and brilliance from the high-wire act in traditional music" The Irish Times
Fretwork OBMCD11- "Dazzling!"-Acoustic Guitar

Recorded and mixed by Chris Newman at Old Bridge Music, Ilkley
Post production by Clipstore, Leeds
Sleeve design by Bryan Ledgard at
Photography by Graham Oliver at OMG, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Many thanks to Simon, Ian, Roy and Liz for their contributions, and to Simon for lending Chris his Vanden mandolin. Thanks also to Ellen Thorpe, Tom McConville, Ingelborg Schrewentigges and Rainer Zellner of Music Contact, Tubingen and Sandy Bbernegger of Arts on Queue, New York.

Very special thanks to Máire's sister Nollaig for her beautiful playing on several of the tracks and to her parents Sean and Una O Cathasaigh whose knowledge of Irish songs and customs is a constant inspiration.

Máire Ni Chathasaigh composed tracks 1 and 14;
Chris Newman composed tracks 6 and 13;
all other titles traditional arranged Ni Chathasaigh/ Newman MCPS/PRS

Produced and arranged by Chris Newman and Máire Ni Chathasaigh
2001 Old Bridge Music

Máire Ni Chathasaigh (pronounced Moira Nee Ha-ha-sig) vocals, Irish harp, tin whistle, keyboards, string arrangements
Chris Newman guitars,mandolins electric bass, keyboards
Nollaig Casey fiddles, viola, backing vocals
Simon Mayor mandolin on track 13
Ian MacFarlane fiddle on track 8
Liz Hanks cello
Roy Dodds percussion

© 2001 Old Bridge Music
® 2001 Old Bridge Music

Album Information

Instruments:     Harp, Guitar / Mandolin / fiddle / bass /Voice
Genre: Irish Traditional
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0175
Label: Old Bridge Music
Year: 2001
Origin: UK